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National Mentoring Month
Year Seven Report (2008)

January 1, 2008 marked the beginning of the seventh annual National Mentoring Month (NMM) campaign—a large-scale public service campaign to recruit volunteer mentors to work with children who are at risk of not achieving their full potential.  General Colin L. Powell headlined this year’s campaign and was joined by music icon Quincy Jones and R&B artist Usher.  This nationwide drive to recruit volunteer mentors for young people urged America’s adult volunteers to “Share what you know.  Become a Mentor.”  

The campaign was spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Sponsors of this year’s campaign included Metlife Foundation, The Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation, and The MCJ Foundation.  Media partners included: ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC; Comcast; Newsweek magazine; National Association of Broadcasters (NAB); Time Warner; and Viacom.   

As in years past, President George W. Bush signed a Proclamation designating January as National Mentoring Month.  The campaign also received the support of Congress with Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ric Keller (R-FL), and Mike Rogers (R-MI) introducing the annual National Mentoring Month resolution in the House; in the Senate, Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and McCain (R-AZ) led the effort. A total of 27 Senators and 33 Representatives cosponsored the resolutions, helping raise awareness of the critical need for more mentors.

In addition to the President’s proclamation, over twenty governors and mayors issued state and local proclamations designating January as National Mentoring Month. 

The fifth annual Thank Your Mentor Day™ was celebrated on January 24, 2008, a day to encourage Americans to honor those individuals who inspired them and had a lasting impact on their lives. 

As a highlight of this year’s campaign, the Harvard Mentoring Project launched the first-ever ReelPeople Project.  Two real-life mentor-mentee pairs were selected to be featured in campaign Public Service Announcements (PSAs) during NMM 2008. 

Media materials for this year’s campaign consisted of television and radio PSAs, and print materials for recruitment and advertising purposes.  NMM 2008 was a great success and received significant local and national press coverage. 

During January 2008, more than 345,000 people visited www.WhoMentoredYou.org (the website of the Harvard Mentoring Project), www.mentoring.org (the web site of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership), www.nationalservice.org (the website of the Corporation for National and Community Service), and www.bbbsa.org (the web site of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) to find out more about mentoring opportunities in their area.

 

Background

In January 2002, the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership spearheaded the first-ever National Mentoring Month.

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The Goals of National Mentoring Month are:

1. To raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms
2. To recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have waiting lists of young people
3. To promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring

Research has shown that programs which rely on volunteer mentors can play a powerful role in reducing drug abuse and youth violence, while greatly enhancing a young person's prospects for leading a healthy and productive life.

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Local Non-profit Partners

In more than 50 states and cities, local affiliates of America's Promise Alliance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Communities In Schools, Corporation for National and Community Service, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, and Points of Light Foundation served as the lead local nonprofit partner for NMM.  These local partnerships of mentoring programs convened steering committees of community leaders, created an action plan for NMM, secured media commitments in their markets, provided local telephone numbers and websites for prospective mentors to contact, responded to inquiries from the public, and referred prospective volunteers to appropriate mentoring agencies. In many of the largest media markets, a single television network affiliate served as the local lead TV partner for NMM, and sponsored a month-long, station-wide, on-air campaign in collaboration with the campaign's local lead nonprofit partner.

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National Non-profit and Government Partners

The Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service led the NMM 2008 effort.  Nonprofit partners included:
America's Promise Alliance
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Mentoring USA
National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)   
National Mentoring Center
Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network
USA Freedom Corps

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Thank Your Mentor Day

As the centerpiece of NMM 2008, the fifth annual Thank Your Mentor Day™ was celebrated on January 24, 2008.  On that day, Americans across the country reached out to thank and honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them, and who had a lasting impact on their lives. 

Thank Your Mentor Day™ promoted “Four Ways to Honor your Mentor”:

  • contact your mentor to express your appreciation;
  • “Pass it on” by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  • make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program;
  • write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the campaign’s web site.

To support the effort, the Harvard Mentoring Project’s web site, www.WhoMentoredYou.org, presented video clips and written essays contributed by prominent individuals from various fields sharing recollections about important mentors from their childhood and young adult years.  Contributors included Maya Angelou, Tom Brokaw, the late Ray Charles, Deepak Chopra, former president Bill Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Richard Dreyfuss, Clint Eastwood, Antwone Fisher, former Senator John Glenn, Darrell Green, Gwen Ifill (PBS), Quincy Jones, Larry King (CNN), Senator John McCain, Edward James Olmos, General Colin Powell, Harold Prince, Usher Raymond, Cal Ripken, Jr., Victoria Rowell, Bill Russell, Tim Russert (NBC News), Martin Sheen, Mike Wallace (CBS News), Brian Williams (NBC News), and Oprah Winfrey. 

During January, the web site also provided access to on-line greeting cards, created for the campaign by Hallmark Cards, enabling people to reach out via e-mail to thank mentors who made significant contributions to their lives.  The web site also promoted the idea of “Pass it on!” and provided links to www.mentoring.org, the web site of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, for information on mentoring programs in communities across the country that need volunteers. 

In support of Thank Your Mentor Day, over 100 tributes from individuals thanking their mentors were posted on www.WhoMentoredYou.org.  These meaningful stories of the impact of mentoring from people of all ages and backgrounds are an inspiration to potential mentors. 

Many local partners used Thank Your Mentor Day™ as the centerpiece of local NMM activities, sponsoring special events, such as Thank Your Mentor Day breakfasts and mentor recognition events, and setting up prominent displays in high-traffic business areas to distribute Thank Your Mentor Day™ cards and other NMM materials. 

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Television Advertising

The Harvard Mentoring Project produced a total of 14 public service announcements (PSAs) for TV and radio in 2008. Three TV spots featuring General Powell promoted the recruitment of volunteer mentors, focusing on the importance of mentoring, and the benefits to the mentor as well as the child.  General Powell also highlighted the important difference that older adults can make in the life of a young person.  General Powell was also featured in this year’s radio PSA.

Grammy Award-winning R&B recording artist Usher and music icon Quincy Jones were featured in three campaign PSAs. Usher and Quincy Jones appeared in two PSAs together.  In the first spot, Usher thanked Quincy for being his mentor and friend.  In the second spot, both Usher and Quincy spoke about the influence that mentors can have on a young person’s life. Another spot showcased how Usher’s New Look Foundation is "passing it on" to the next generation through Camp New Look, a summer camp for teenagers that teaches business skills for pursuing careers in entertainment and sports.

The Harvard Mentoring Project also produced a PSA which highlighted the importance of mentoring for children who have parents who are incarcerated.  The mentor and mentee featured in the spot were featured at the Compassion in Action Roundtable meeting on January 23, 2008 in Washington, D.C.  The event was sponsored by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The campaign also re-issued the Victoria Rowell PSA from last January, which focused on mentoring for youth in foster care.  Having spent the first 18 years of her life in foster care, Ms. Rowell speaks about the tremendous impact that mentors had in helping her to achieve her goals. 

There were two versions of each PSA – one version with national tags listing the three national partners of NMM, directing viewers to www.mentoring.org for information on how to find a mentoring program in their own communities.  The second was a localizable version to allow partners to tag the spots with their own local sponsor and contact information.

CBS and the FOX television network produced and aired its own network-sponsored mentoring PSAs, featuring the following talents from prime time TV shows:  Emily Deschanel (FOX, Bones), Omar Epps (FOX, House), Jeff Foxworthy (FOX, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?), Kelsey Grammar (FOX, Back to You), Hill Harper (CBS, CSI: NY),  Neil Patrick Harris (CBS, How I Met Your Mother), Pauley Perrette (CBS, NCIS), Charlie Sheen (CBS, Two and a Half Men), and Gary Sinise (CBS, CSI: NY).

ReelPeople Project
As a highlight of this year’s campaign, HMP launched the first-ever ReelPeople Project.  Local partners around the country were invited to nominate real-life mentor-mentee pairs as candidates for starring roles in a TV PSA as part of this year’s campaign.  Eighteen local partners submitted audition tapes of local mentor-mentee pairs who could speak about the importance of mentoring and the difference that mentoring has made on their lives. The two pairs chosen for this year’s PSAs were nominated by: Bay Area Mentoring (San Francisco) on behalf of Friends for Youth; and the Governor's Commission on Community Service in Denver, Colorado on behalf of Denver Kids, Inc., a member program of the Youth Mentoring Collaborative.  Staff from the Harvard Mentoring Project flew out to San Francisco and Denver and filmed a PSA with each of the pairs.  The two PSAs were distributed nationally as part of the NMM 2008 campaign.

In addition, the Harvard Mentoring Project created a video montage of all of the nominated mentor-mentee pairs who submitted an audition tape.  The montage was made available on the campaign’s YouTube page (www.youtube.com/mentoringmonth2008). 

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Print Advertising

The Harvard Mentoring Project produced and distributed three ancillary items for this year’s campaign:

  1. “We’re Looking For a Few Good Mentors” recruitment card
  2. “Thank You” card to promote Thank Your Mentor Day™
  3. “Who Mentored You?” postcard

In addition to the ancillary materials, the Harvard Mentoring Project produced a print ad and made it available to all local partners.  This year’s print ad featured a pair of swans with the tag, “Share what you know.  Become a mentor.”  The ad included the website, www.mentoring.org, for those who wanted to find a program in their community.

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White House, Congressional, and State/Local Governance Support

As in years past, President George W. Bush signed a Proclamation designating January as National Mentoring Month.  The campaign also received the support of Congress with Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Susan Davis (D-CA), Ric Keller (R-FL), and Mike Rogers (R-MI) introducing the annual National Mentoring Month resolution in the House; in the Senate, Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and McCain (R-AZ) led the effort. A total of 27 Senators and 33 Representatives cosponsored the resolutions, helping raise awareness of the critical need for more mentors.

Proclamations designating January as National Mentoring Month were issued by Governors, Mayors, and City Council members in over 20 cities and states. 

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Media Coverage

The national versions of the PSAs were distributed through the NAB in December and January.  The PSAs were also made available on the campaign’s YouTube page (www.youtube.com/mentoringmonth2008) and on www.mentoring.org, as well as on the campaign’s website at www.WhoMentoredYou.org

The Harvard Mentoring Project was invited to create a page on MTV’s new “Think” site (think.mtv.com), which is designed to encourage young adults to get involved and take action on issues that matter to them.  One of the Quincy Jones and Usher PSAs (“Thank You Quincy”) was featured on the website’s home page in January in honor of Thank Your Mentor Day.

At least 450 news articles highlighting NMM 2008 were published in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet during the month of January.  There were also numerous calendar listings in newspapers highlighting community events promoting and recognizing mentoring.

On a national level, Newsweek included a full-page print ad in the January 21, 2008 issue.  Full-page ads also appeared in the January issues of Real Simple and Fortune magazines.

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Funders

The Harvard Mentoring Project’s ongoing National Mentoring Month campaign is an initiative of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication, which previously created the National Designated Driver Campaign.

The Harvard Mentoring Project is supported by grants from MetLife Foundation, The Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation and the MCJ Foundation.  Major in-kind support for NMM 2008 was provided by the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC television networks; Comcast; Newsweek magazine; National Association of Broadcasters (NAB); Time Warner; and Viacom.


For more information on Thank Your Mentor Day™ and National Mentoring Month, visit www.WhoMentoredYou.org.


Who Mentored You?™ , Thank Your Mentor Day™ , and Share What You Know™ are trademarked initiatives of the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health.

 

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Celebrity Montage

Colin Powell PSA
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Quincy Jones & Usher PSA
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© 2008 President and Fellows of Harvard College